The whole fake news phenomenon isn’t something that’s original in America. I remember going to the supermarket as a kid and begging my Dad to buy me the latest copy of Weekly World News. Now clearly, the Weekly World News was designed as the be-all-end-all newspaper for conspiracy theorists and nutjobs who were too far gone to even read US Weekly or the traditional celebrity rag. The tabloid ceased print production in 2007 and seemingly left a void in the phrase, “Don’t believe everything you read.”
Fast forward to 2016 and the widely scrutinized election. Our now President Donald Trump (as of 12:30 PM EST this afternoon) and rival Senator Hilary Clinton are fighting hard on both sides, with supporters trying to sway opinions of undecided voters left and right. This election, things are different. Social media has completely taken over the way we receive information. People are writing complete fallacies for websites which cater to specific parties merely to get the ad revenue that comes from click through.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have begun implementing policies to fact check certain suspect articles because the sad truth is, majority of the American public is media illiterate. And even with certain sources being fact checked by professionals, you still have the ignoramus in the crowd who will contest that accuracy because they want to believe what they read is real because it promotes their ideologies.
Our nation’s third President Thomas Jefferson is quoted as writing “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Truer words could not be said in a day and age of half-truths and falsehoods written simply to incite people to believe what they want to believe and not take into consideration facts as reported by trusted sources of media. It’s a weird day in the U.S. when your friends post findings that are wildly inaccurate (from both sides) and you ultimately feel like you’ve plugged back into The Matrix. For most Americans, they’d rather take the blue pill. “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” says the all-knowing Morpheus. “You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” I’m of the mindset to always take the red pill. For better or worse.